by PuckStopsHere on 08/16/11 at 02:34 PM ET
One of the more interesting players last year in terms of sabermetrics was Zenon Konopka who played with the New York Islanders and signed this summer with the Ottawa Senators. He winds up near the bottom of raw Corsi lists but played a tough role on a poor team.
Commenter steviestevie saw this and commented It’ll be interesting to see what Konopka’s performance looks like when more numbers are taken into account. He’s not exactly a world-beater, but he was pretty much thrown to the wolves taking tons of d-zone faceoff for a club whose transition game last year can best be described as “Is Grabner on the ice? No? *#&$%^!” in the worst team adjusted Corsi list.
Zenon Konopka had the third worst raw Corsi rating in the NHL last year. This means that in 5 on 5 situations when Zenon Konopka was on the ice, the puck was usually under control of the Islanders’ opposition. No other forward in the league had as poor a raw Corsi rating. After team adjustment, things do not get much better. Konopka is fourth worst as Tanner Glass, who played with the Canucks drops below him. Konopka played a tough defensive role with the team and this accounts for much of his poor puck possession numbers. He had the third largest imbalance of defensive zone starts in the league. With that correction, Konopka moves well out of the worst players in the league. He is no world beater, but he improves quite a lot.
Konopka has the third worst team and zone adjusted Corsi rating on the New York Islanders in 2010/11. Matt Martin and Milan Jurcina are worse. These numbers show that Konopka is an acceptable NHL player who played a tough role for the Islanders. He is no world beater, but he is NHL calibre.
There are other facets of Konopka’s game to consider to get his full value. He takes a lot of penalties. He takes about twice as many penalties as he draws. This forces his team to kill penalties because of him. Konopka is a second line penalty killer with the Islanders. He does a reasonable job on the penalty kill. Konopka is a good faceoff man. He had the fourth best faceoff winning record in the league. That is why he was used in so many defensive zone starts. Konopka was used for defensive zone faceoffs by the Islanders with little concern to the quality of opposition. In fact, the quality of opposition he played against was not very strong.
All told, Zenon Konopka is a role player. He is NHL calibre. He isn’t a key player on any NHL team, but he has a use. Most NHL team would be able to use him as a faceoff specialist and defensive player. He has little offensive value. In fact his nine points last season were a career best.
A player like Konopka is a probably not good enough to get a regular shift on a truly top level NHL team, but most teams are not truly at the top level. There are a lot of teams that are well back of Stanley Cup contention like the New York Islanders last year and the Ottawa Senators in the upcoming season. Konopka has had plenty of opportunity to play his role on this kind of weaker team and play a regular shift.
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